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KellyAnne Conway's personal nightmare. |Source image © Volkova Vera/Shutterstock
KellyAnne Conway's personal nightmare. |Source image © Volkova Vera/Shutterstock
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Why Your Vibrator is More Likely to be Spying on You Than Your Microwave

Picture of Peter Ward
Tech Editor
Updated: 27 October 2017
This week, Donald Trump’s senior adviser Kellyanne Conway warned that even your microwave oven may be spying on you. Conway is dead wrong: your microwave can’t listen in on conversations or record your every move. But your vibrator? You may want to keep an eye on that.

“There was an article this week that talked about how you can surveil someone through their phones, through their—certainly through their television sets, any number of different ways,” Conway said in an interview with the Bergen Record. “And microwaves that turn into cameras, et cetera. So we know that that is just a fact of modern life.”

However, numerous experts have assured the public that microwave ovens cannot be as a tool to spy on people. And Conway has since denied she was accusing Barack Obama of spying on Donald Trump with a microwave, providing yet more proof that predicting the next statement to come from the current administration is as foolish as it is difficult.

But more and more of our devices are connected to the internet and are collecting our private data. When data from those devices isn’t secure, the chances our privacy will be invaded increase dramatically. That invasion of privacy becomes even more severe when the device in question is something personal – like a sex toy.

Canadian manufacturer Standard Innovation agreed to pay its customers C$10,000 ($7,400) each this week, after selling a vibrator that was tracking data without their knowledge or permission. A class-action lawsuit in Illinois alleged the device broke privacy and consumer protection laws.

One of the plaintiffs in the case claimed the device, the We-Vibe 4 Plus vibrator, collected “highly sensitive personally identifiable information” without telling her. The vibrator connects to an app called We-Connect, which allows the device to be remotely controlled.

Standard Innovation denies any wrongdoing, but as part of the settlement agreement has agreed to increase its privacy practices and to destroy information already collected.

Those who used the app associated with the vibrator are entitled to the full C$10,000, while users who just bought the vibrator can claim up to C$199.

In August 2016 two hackers at the Def Con conference in Las Vegas showed how the vibrator sent information such as device temperature and vibration intensity back to the manufacturer. Shortly after, the privacy violation lawsuit was filed.

The connected world we live in takes some getting used to, but at least we’ve learned one thing this week: you can probably trust your microwave more than your vibrator.